In the week we waited for genetics to get back to us with a diagnosis (when our son was born), I made the mistake of looking things up online.
I researched his disorder and within seconds, I was a weeping mop on the floor.
I read about the delays that we could expect, as well as some medical issues he could experience. However, what affected me most were the details about his behavior as he’d get older – it would be especially prevalent in boys.
The words scared the living daylights out of me.
But, like everything else at that time, I tried to focus on the present moment. The articles talked about children as they got older. I had a baby to look after and it would be ages before I’d have to deal with all of that scary stuff.
Besides, I thought, they can’t possibly be talking about children who grow up in a loving home, with loving parents, and with plenty of therapy in their pocket. These must be the reports of children who grew up in institutions – with little attention and no parental affection.
Six years later, I am finding myself dealing with the realities of those reports.
Head banging (and I don’t mean the rock-and-roll kind, I mean on the floor)
Biting (of self and others – if you’re not careful)
Scratching (of self, until he bleeds and is left with a body full of scabs)
Hitting (of self, in the face, in the forehead, with a fist and with his knee)
I am finding myself at a loss.
I am finding myself wondering what went wrong. We did it all with so much love and attention.
I’m finding myself wondering where my baby boy went. The one with the smiles and laughter that would melt your heart. The one who loved to snuggle. The one who loved to “sing” at night when he awoke and could not fall back asleep.
Where is that child?
Instead, I have a frustrated, fussy, inconsolable child.
I am defeated most days. Afraid of what he’ll do to himself. Constantly on the look-out to protect him from himself.
While the situation is a difficult one, I also find that putting myself in his shoes is of great comfort.
I ask myself:
- If I didn’t have the words to express what I wanted, how would I feel? How would I react? What would I want most?
- If I weren’t feeling well, but couldn’t have others understand exactly where it hurts, how would I feel? How would I react? What would I want most?
- If I were hungry, and craving a certain food, but couldn’t tell my own mother, how would I feel? How would I react? What would I want most?
Chances are, the answers to these questions would be: I’d feel frustrated, I’d have a meltdown because it’s the easiest way to get everyone’s attention, and I’d want to be loved and cared for most of all.
The same is true about homeschooling.
Rather than feeling defeated, worried and afraid about what will become of your child when he just doesn’t grasp certain concepts, ask yourself:
- When I don’t understand something, how do I feel? How do I react? What do I want most?
- When I can’t learn a new skill no matter how hard I try, how do I feel? How do I react? What do I want most?
- When other people understand a new concept, but I am forever clueless about it, how do I feel? How do I react? What do I want most?
Chances are, the answers to these questions are: I feel frustrated, I [curse and then] shut-down, and I’d want to be accepted and encouraged most of all.
If you haven’t done so recently, join new class, read a book about something entirely foreign to you, take on a new challenge. Put yourself in your child’s shoes as a learner.
Whether your child has a short-term memory issue, a sensory processing disorder, an auditory processing disorder, or any other challenge, you need to be asking yourself the same questions:
- If I were in his shoes, how would I feel?
- How would I react?
- What would I want most?
The last question is the key to planning your goals/ lessons when things just get to be too much.
What challenges have you been dealing with lately that have left you feeling defeated as a parent and homeschooler?